With less than a month until the World Cup commences, Slovakia takes a large step in preparations for the biggest sporting event in the world with the announcement of the preliminary roster of 29, which will be clipped to 23 on June 1.
On May 29, coach Vladimir Weiss and the provisional roster will be put to the test in a pivotal friendly against Cameroon. Although the match may not have an effect on roster fixtures such as Marek Hamsik, others that still have their place up in the air will have to perform well to ensure their spot on the plane to South Africa.
Looking at the squad's current composition, Weiss' selections have potential to inflict damage in the early rounds of South Africa. Attacking prowess is definitely on display, especially if forwards Robert Vittek and Filip Holosko come back smoothly from their injury woes.
The controversy behind the selections is that many players chosen either have not recovered from injury or are quite inexperienced, which raises the question of whether most of his squad will be ready for South Africa. If Coach Weiss' gambles turn out a success, then Slovakia could be a solid choice to advance into the round of 16 or even the quarterfinals.
Weiss’ provisional 29-man roster is composed of players that compete for clubs from a diverse group of countries. Only three of the players are home-based, one of which is Kornel Salata of Slovan Bratislava, while the other two, Zilna Pecalka and Kamil Kopunek, play for the Slovak club Trnava Spartak.
There will be three players from the English Premier League that have a chance to represent the Repre in South Africa. Starlets Miroslav Stoch and Vladimir Weiss Jr. play for Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively, but neither see much time from their clubs. Liverpool defender, Martin Skrtel, received playing time on an irregular basis, as he missed much of the season due to injury.
One could examine Weiss’ choices in the squad and claim that he doesn’t mind taking risks. Weiss chose multiple players from the youth ranks and selected players who have not played since their injuries. Inured players on the roster include Martin Skrtel, Filip Holosko and Robert Vittek. How durable they will be remains a question.
Despite the selection of the injured trio, the squad did not have many other controversial choices, with most-capped player Miroslav Karhan, Slovak star Marek Hamsik and goal-threat Stanislav Sestak headlining the selections.
Here is the provisional roster with the likely starters in bold:
GOALKEEPERS: Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw), Dusan Kuciak (Vaslui), Lubos Kamenar (Nantes), Dusan Pernis (Dundee United)
DEFENDERS: Peter Pekarik (Wolfsburg), Martin Petras (Cesena), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Lubomir Michalik (Leeds), Jan Durica (Hannover), Radoslav Zabavnik (Mainz), Marek Cech (West Brom), Tomas Lubocan (Zenit St Petersburg), Kornel Salata (Slovan Bratislava)
MIDFIELDERS: Kamil Kopunek (Spartak Trnava), Jan Kozak (Timisoara), Juraj Kucka (Sparta Prague), Miroslav Karhan (Mainz), Marek Sapara (Ankaragucu), Mario Pecalka (Zilina), Stanislav Sestak (Bochum), Marek Hamsik (Napoli), Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City), Miroslav Stoch (Chelsea), Dusan Svento (Salzburg), Zdeno Strba (Xanthi)
FORWARDS: Erik Jendrisek (Schalke), Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu), Martin Jakubko (Saturn Moscow), Filip Holosko (Besiktas)